-waves around frantically- Hi everyone, I’m still alive, I promise!
If you’ve asked me three months ago what I’ll be doing with my summer, I would have told you that I didn’t know. Flash forward three months later and I’m extremely busy, attending a summer class, working at an internship, and studying for the hardest part of the CPA exam. (For those of you who don’t know, the CPA exam is the exam accountants have to take to get licensed and it comes in FOUR different parts. Yeah.)
To de-stress between life and study sessions, I’ve been reading several books and ruthlessly DNF-ing a lot of books that don’t catch my attention within a few pages because I just don’t have time for books that are just “okay” anymore. On the plus side, in DNF-ing books quickly, I am really tackling my TBR pile.
Below are some books I’ve chosen to review. I know that the title of the post does say “Mini Reviews,” but some reviews ended up being a little too long to be a mini review so…oops!
Illusions of Fate
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: September 9, 2014
The people of Albion are different from anyone Jessamin has ever known: harsh, uptight, and obsessed with wealth and rank. Jessamin knew as much when she left her sun-drenched island home to attend school in their gray, dreary country.
But she not idea how different they truly were.
She never thought she would discover a house with doors that open onto a hundred corners of the city or a book that spends its days as a bird. She certainly never expected to become a pawn in a political and magical power struggle between the sinister Lord Downpike and the handsome, charming Finn Ackerly. And she never so much as imagined she’d win Finn’s affections – or that one day his shadow would follow her every step.
Fortunately for Jessamin, fate has other ideas…
First Sentence: Dear Mama, I am most certainly not dead.
I’ve been meaning to read Illusions of Fate years ago when I won two copies of it in a giveaway three years ago. Flash forward three years later and I finally decide to pick it up because it’s being on my shelves long enough.
To start with, I love how the main character in Illusions of Fate, Jessamin, is a diverse character, which for a book written three years ago before the whole We Need Diverse Books movement going on, is a big deal. Unlike some other “diverse” books I’ve read, Kiersten White really developed Jessamin’s culture – which is a fictional culture – instead of glossing over it and using her culture so she can claim that her book is diverse. I’m a bit sad how the upper part of the cover model’s face was cut from the cover as it makes the cover of Illusions of Fate appear white washed, when in fact, HarperCollins did use a diverse cover model for the cover.
Another aspect of Illusions of Fate that I really enjoyed reading was how, unlike other Young Adult books, Illusions of Fate featured a guy that is genuinely interested in the main character before she developed any romantic interest in him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read books where the main female character was the one to fall for the guy first and try making her love interest like her back. It’s extremely refreshing to see the other side of the story.
However, besides those two main aspects, I found Illusions of Fate to be just…average. Parts of the book was utterly ridiculous – I would stop and wonder did that really happen just now?, something that has also happened when I read Kiersten White’s other books. As of now, it’s gotten to the point where I wonder if Kiersten White’s books are for me. Hopefully If I Darken, Kiersten White’s latest series, wouldn’t disappoint.
Author: Sarah Ockler
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry – except for one.
Christian Kane is a notorious playboy – insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.
When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though – swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…
First Sentence: After spending the day in Aunt Lemon’s gift shop with a sticky note in the shape of a crab stuck to my boomsie (and no one even told me until after I’d escorted a pair of surfers to our collection of mermaid dashboard ornaments, and then my cousin Kirby sent me the picture, all u got crabs!), I decided a little alone time was in order.
As soon as I saw the cover of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids – look how cute and adorable and utterly fluffy it is! – I knew that I had to read it. Add the fact that it was marketed as a retelling of The Little Mermaid and I was automatically sold.
As you can probably deduct from the cover, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a diverse book. I love how Sarah Ockler really took the time to research Elyse’s culture and included other aspects of diversity besides where the characters are from (ie. There are guys in mermaid parades – yay!).
However, I was a bit let down by how The Summer of Chasing Mermaids wasn’t really similar to the tale of The Little Mermaid. Yes, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids takes place by the sea and yes, Elyse lost her voice, and yes, people are chasing mermaids in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids (which wasn’t explored in depth, it was just mentioned as an activity a character does), but other than that, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids wasn’t similar to The Little Mermaid at all. I expected a lot of more parallels and similarities between the two stories and sadly, that wasn’t what I got.
I really enjoyed how Sarah Ockler didn’t give any of the characters an easy way out. She showcased reality and how hard life can be, how often things just won’t go your way because that’s just how life is, but you have to make the best of it. There’s nothing being glossed over and no over the top situations.
Other things I want to note: I felt like Elyse’s personal growth had too much telling and not enough showing. I wanted to feel more of Elyse’s growth and see how she’s overcoming her past instead of having it told to us. Another note about Elyse was how she supposingly wrote everything like it was the lyrics to a song, but I just didn’t feel it. Just because she wrote a list where all the first letters in the list began with the same letter doesn’t mean that it was a good song lyric.
Side-note: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is also a sex positive book (yay!) although I don’t recall the use of any condoms, so there’s that (although Elyse might be on birth control, but Christian certainly didn’t ask if she was).
Words in Deep Blue
Author: Cath Crowley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: June 6, 2016
Publisher: Alfred Knopf Books for Young Readers
Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.
Now Rachel has returned to the city — and to the bookshop — to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.
Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.
As Henry and Rachel work side by side — surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages — they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
First Sentence: I open my eyes at midnight to the sound of the ocean and my brother’s breathing.
Words in Deep Blue was a huge disappointment for me.
When I first read the summary of Words in Deep Blue, I was intrigued. I’m a sucker for romance novels and Words in Deep Blue sounded like the perfect summer read. The synopsis of Words in Deep Blue implied that Words in Deep Blue would be a cute, fluffy romance book where I can be all shippy and celebrate when the guy and girl finally gets together. Add the fact that my friends really enjoyed the author’s previous book and I was super excited to get my hands on Words in Deep Blue – so excited that I preordered Words in Deep Blue in advance, something I don’t do anymore with books written by authors I haven’t read before.
What ultimately dragged the book down and didn’t make the book for me was Henry Jones, one of the main characters of Words in Deep Blue. I constantly wanted to shake Henry, to yell at him to WAKE UP and look at what he’s got in front of him. Henry drove me NUTS. He was a constant disappointment and took awhile – aka the entire book – to finally open his eyes and realize what was in front of him all along. Frankly, Henry was what really broke the book for me as he made the romance in Words in Deep Blue not cute and fluffy and that should be a crime. (Yes, I understand that he’s a teenager and I should give him some slack, but him acting that way for the entire book was way too long for me. There’s only so much I can take.)
And Rachel, poor Rachel. I admired how she could go through so many awful things and still remain strong and steady. I wanted to give her a hug and reassure her that everything will be all right while also telling her that Henry does not deserve her. (As you can probably tell, I have really strong feelings against Henry.)
The one perk about reading Words in Deep Blue was Henry’s family’s bookstore. I wish such a bookstore existed in NYC – I’ll love to go to one where you can leave notes in books and receive responses from total strangers. Someone in NYC needs to make this happen please – imagine all the friendships (and romances) that will be made!
Author: Sally Thorne
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
First Sentence: I have a theory.
I very rarely read New Adult books. In fact, I think I’ve read a total of three New Adult books my entire life. The Hating Game is actually going to be the first New Adult book to sit on my shelf…once it actually arrives that is. The only reason why I picked up The Hating Game was because of all the hype I saw surrounding it, which is saying a lot because I never heard of The Hating Game until recently, a year after its release, and it’s still being talked about.
The Hating Game took awhile for me to get into, mainly because of Lucy’s big personality. I found Lucy to be all over the place sometimes and it was overwhelming to be in her head 24/7. Part of me wished that The Hating Game was written from both Lucy and Josh’s point of view, but alas, we only know Lucy’s side of things. (The Hating Game would probably get 5 glowing stars from me if it was also told from Josh’s point of view too.) Things got better when the chemistry between Josh and Lucy started steaming up the room and Lucy calmed down a bit. From then on, everything was hot hot hot.
The chemistry between Lucy and Josh basically makes up the entire book. Once the chemistry builds up, everything else takes a backseat because the chemistry between them two will take the center stage. I’ll let you guys into a secret: A guilty pleasure of mine is reading adult contemporary and historical romance books. (If you guys have any recommendations, let me know.) The romance in The Hating Game beats a huge majority of them by a landslide, mainly because of the chemistry between Lucy and Josh.
The Hating Game is not only just about the chemistry – it pulled at my feels too. I actually found myself tearing up during one scene – I wonder if you guys can figure out what scene – and ahhhh.
Overall, I strongly recommend The Hating Game if you’re a fan of reading about steaming hot chemistry and playful banter. You can thank me later.
The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: The Orphan Queen #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.
She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.
She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.
Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.
First Sentence: The mirrors were an expensive superstition.
I was extremely nervous when I started The Orphan Queen.
I didn’t enjoy Jodi Meadow’s debut novel (I’m sorry!), DNF’d My Lady Jane after 130 pages (don’t kill me guys – I really tried!), so The Orphan Queen was extremely intimidating, especially after hearing good friends go on and on about how great The Orphan Queen was and why haven’t you read it yet Kelly? I finally picked up The Orphan Queen one day when I wanted to read about princesses and kingdoms and with a held breath, I plunged in.
First of all, I want to start off with the fact that I saw every single twist coming…except for one very small one. Despite that, I really enjoyed reading The Orphan Queen. I loved the idea of Black Knife – is it weird that I kept picturing him as Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon even though the mask he wears is totally wrong? – and the idea of the Wraith. Did I also mention that I’m a huge fan of warrior princess books? No? Well, you know that now.
Despite me enjoying a huge majority of the book, I am well aware that The Orphan Queen comes with problems and even some plot holes if you really think about it. However, I can’t help but love The Orphan Queen anyway – it was a fast paced, enjoyable, shippy read. I blame it on Black Knife aka Tuxedo Mask in my mind.
I didn’t think that the cliffhanger at the end of the book was cruel – not at all. Maybe it’s because I already had the sequel to the book in my hands (HA!) or maybe it was because the ending just hadn’t sunk in yet as I didn’t have to wait a year for the sequel to see what happens next.